Applications open Feb. 1 for a program providing benefits to bring new family physicians to rural Alberta.
The Rural Education Supplement and Integrated Doctor Experience (RESIDE) program will provide $2 million to 20 new family physicians in each of the next three years. The physicians will practise in 15 identified rural or remote communities of need. Further communities will be identified in subsequent years.
“RESIDE will be key in attracting new family physicians to bring Albertans in rural communities the health care they deserve. By addressing rural physician recruitment and retention, this $6-million program is another part of our $90-million commitment this year to ensure Albertans have equitable access to physicians no matter where they live.” – Jason Copping, Minister of Health
Family physicians who choose to work in specific communities will be eligible for $60,000 for undergraduate tuition fee reimbursement, as well as a remote community incentive ranging from $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the community’s remoteness. In exchange, successful physicians will provide three years of service in a designated rural community.
“Rural and remote communities continue to face challenges recruiting and retaining family physicians, with deep consequences for the care Albertans receive. RESIDE will help bring 20 family physicians to provide needed care in every corner of our province each year – and help them stay. I’m pleased to see Alberta’s government is committed to attracting doctors to communities like Grande Cache and committed to providing health care in rural Alberta.” – Martin Long, MLA for West Yellowhead
The first group of successful RESIDE participants will start practising in rural communities this fall.
“The RESIDE program will play a vital role in attracting physicians to Alberta’s rural and remote communities. The launch of RESIDE demonstrates the Government of Alberta’s ongoing commitment toward ensuring rural Albertans have access to health care close to home.” – Dr. Gavin Parker, board chairperson, Rural Health Professions Action Plan
“People of rural Alberta deserve access to high-quality, sustained, dependable, comprehensive health care in their hometowns. We are excited to be a part of encouraging medical students to explore the many wonderful opportunities that are available within rural medicine in Alberta. We hope this program will help bolster an interest in, and commitment to, rural family practice within the student body and help graduating physicians connect and settle within rural Alberta.” – Payden Spowart and Katrina Taylor, student co-chairs, Family Medicine and Rural Medicine Interest Group, University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine
- The Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP) will administer the $6-million RESIDE program. RhPAP is a trusted and experienced organization that, for the past 30 years, has supported the efforts of rural Albertans to maintain an accessible health workforce close to home.
- Sixty new family physicians are eligible for benefits through the program over the next three years. A RESIDE program application process will take place each year.
- RESIDE eligibility is open to all family medicine resident physicians completing their residency training this year and those who are interested in practising in rural and remote parts of Alberta.
- Successful applicants will be chosen by a committee with representatives from Alberta Health, RhPAP, the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, communities of need and Alberta Health Services. Selection will be based on their fit for the community and the available job, as well as where an applicant is from and their experience working in a rural area.
- Communities eligible to receive a physician under RESIDE are chosen each year based on the available process. Should a community not get a doctor for any reason in the first year, there is a chance they could get one in subsequent years if it continues to be a community in need.
- Fifteen communities have been identified for the first year of the program:
- Fox Creek
- Grande Cache
- Fort Vermilion
- High Level
- Milk River
- Cold Lake
- Lac La Biche
- Rocky Mountain House
- Fort Macleod
- Interested new-in-practice family physicians can apply starting Feb. 1 by filling out an application form on the RhPAP website. The deadline is March 31.
- The amount of the remote community incentive will depend on the level of community remoteness.
- Factors including rural upbringing, positive undergraduate rural exposure and targeted postgraduate exposure outside urban areas are consistently associated with greater probability of physicians choosing to practise in rural communities.
- Alberta’s government is spending about $90 million in total in 2021-22 to address rural physician recruitment and retention:
- Rural and Remote Northern Program (RRNP): $57 million
- Rural Medical Education (RME): $6 million
- Rural Integrated Community Clerkship program (RICC): $4 million
- Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP): $9 million, including $2 million for RESIDE
- Locum programs: $3 million
- Rural Physician On Call Program (POC): $12 million
- Alberta has one of the most generous rural physician recruitment and retention programs and among the highest overall physician compensation in Canad